Freo's View


Posted in cafe, city of fremantle, heritage, hospitality, notre dame university, Uncategorized by freoview on July 18, 2018



There is always so much talk about the activation of the Fremantle historic West End, but then projects are stalled or abandoned and that is a real shame.

The former cute Notre Dame University bookshop building on the corner of Henry Street and Marine Terrace is still vacant, and the considerations of making the boring back wall of the Santa Maria library in Henry Street into a heritage wall also have not eventuated, and neither has the planned activation node on Phillimore Street.

I hear from the hospitality industry that the former bookshop rent is far too high at $ 40,000 a year, indexed at 3-4%. An interested party told me they would have to invest around $ 200,000 for a commercial kitchen, etc. and that the figures simply don’t end up for them to open a cafe in the space that has a lovely courtyard in front of it.

The very good refurbishment of the Prindiville Hall in Mouat Street is positive, but it is a space for students rather than for the community

The Fremantle community and West End traders want more than talk and want to see action on activating the area.

Roel Loopers



Posted in city of fremantle, education, notre dame university, Uncategorized by freoview on May 9, 2017



It has been a long time coming but Fremantle Notre Dame University is finally implementing its West End Activation Plan that is part of the Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Fremantle.

UNDA spends $ 75,000 yearly on community activation, but will now get really serious with moving university departments and offices from high profile to low profile locations.

Already three university offices have been moved from High Street to make way for three commercial tenancies to help activate the historic West End.

As part of enhancing Notre Dame activities in the public realm the Mouat Piazza will be created on the corner of Croke and Mouat streets, as well as the Gateway Park on the corner of Mouat and Phillimore streets.

Also part of the plans are activation nodes on the corner of Mouat and High streets and the Vice Chancellery entry to Mouat Street.

We will see new paving, seating, lighting and shade structures appearing in the West End soon and possibly a new public artwork.

Great stuff!

Roel Loopers




Posted in city of fremantle, local government by freoview on June 18, 2015

The big in size Economic Development Strategy draft plan 2015-2020 was a late item presented to the Strategic and General Services Committee of the City of Fremantle last night and I will need to spend more time reading it, but picked up a few things I’ll address now.

Retailers will be delighted that COF intends to spend $ 15,000 on an “Anti-begging strategy” and I hope whatever it is will be done with respect and humanity and a duty of care for those who really need community support.

We will be forking out $ 120,000 on “place activation” I thought place making had left the building many years ago when Freo regularly used to fly in self-proclaimed experts who told us all about lingering nodes and low hanging fruit, and community responsibility where we could make public art out of the hundreds of old bicycle frames we all have in our sheds.

Nothing much happened as far as COF action was concerned and Kings Square was never activated and it took years to get two seats for tourists near the Roundhouse. It was the Glen Cowans Photography Gallery which took the initiative and first put up colourful seats and tables on Arthur Head, and visitors to the historic hill have been keen to use them since.

Also on the agenda, and dare I say finally and very long-overdue, is $ 200,000 on way-finding and signage. The signs in Fremantle are an embarrassment and often confusing. In some areas there are too many signs in other spots, e.g. the Round House, J Shed, Bathers Beach, Maritime Museum there are none or hidden ones. There is also not numbered or coloured way-finding that leads visitors to all the ikonic sites in Fremantle, like tourist routes one sees in the country.

A masterplan for Princess May Park is a very good idea with all the development going on and soon to start in the east of the inner city, where the former Boys School is a jewel in the crown next to the very popular Clancy’s. The park has been under utilised for years and needs a decent facelift with seats and shade structures, and a public artwork or water feature.

To the “West End activation with UNDA” I can only say good luck, because Notre Dame University has shown it is not at all interested in the street level activation they keep signing off on every two years in the useless and not enforceable Memorandum Of Understanding with the City of Fremantle. Very little changes have been made to ‘blinds city’ where we have far too many wooden blinded large windows at street level, instead of active spaces used by the general public. As a big fan of UNDA I am disappointed that the organisations cares so little about their corporate responsibility to help activate the far west end of our city, that resembles a ghost town at night and during the long periods students are not on campus.

Buzz words like place making and lingering and increasing the visitors’ experience have been going around for a long time, but we have had very little action that has made a real impact in that regard, so the community and traders want to see real action and improvement, but we also need to be careful not to over regulate and make public initiative more difficult.

The COF should be very careful with the “Develop public market framework/guidelines be developed’ Markets like the Bathers Beach and Growers Green ones, have been great attractors for Fremantle and should be left alone, because the unfortunate reality has been that when administrators start stuffing around with these kind of initiatives they suck the energy out of it and make things so hard that the fun disappears and those involved just walk away from it and go to other cities that embrace their activities more.

Like all of these long term plans the proof will be in eating the pudding, so let’s wait and see how much will actually be implemented.

Roel Loopers


Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle by freoview on October 8, 2014

Round House 1



The Fremantle BATHERS BEACH ART PRECINCT  is one-year-old and has failed to do what it set out to do; activate the area. That only comes as a surprise to those naïve Councillors who came up with the flawed concept that artist studios would be huge attractors to the Freo community and tourists. They were never going to be and the small residential heritage Pilot’s Cottages were never going to attract top W.A. artists, simply because they are unsuitable and too dark for studios and too small for serious art galleries.

The BBAC is also always flawed because it tries to incorporate three significantly different areas. There is the top of Arthur Head at Captain’s Lane, the J Shed down at Bathers Beach, and Kidogo Arthouse at the Old Port Project. The historic significance of the area was ignored because some young Councillors decided it would be perfect for an arts precinct. It never was and never will be.

The only business that has worked up at Captain’s Lane is the Glen Cowans Photography Gallery, and one only has to walk in to see why. The place just oozes professionalism and class. This is as good a gallery as one can get in a tiny cottage, with great displays, furniture and outstanding photos, all printed and framed to very high quality. Wander next door though to the Wild Twig artist collective and one is in a different world. Yes, they try hard but they lack the style and class the Cowans gallery has.

Next door to that Mutima tried very hard and had a lovely gallery but their concept was bewildering because they also sold clothes. But at least they did have music and movie events that actually attracted new people to the area.

The Aboriginal Cultural Centre is also struggling to attract sufficient visitors’ numbers to warrant existence and I am not surprised about that. It was always just Wadjela-white people- patronising tokenism to put something as significant as our City’s indigenous centre in a shitty little residential cottage that formerly was the office of the harbour pilots. Our Nyoongar brothers and sisters deserve something much better and more prominent, in a better inner city location, and I feel sorry for the delightful Brendan Moore who is trying to make the Centre a success.

It shows how serious the City of Fremantle is about our Aboriginal Centre that the yearly funding for it is less than the money spent on the once a year four-hour Wardarnji Festival. Appalling!

J Shed at Bathers Beach has housed successful professional artists for over twenty years, so why was there suddenly the eagerness that sculptor Greg James and his artists in residence, and ceramic artist Jenny Dawson and her collaborating artists had to become performers, open to the public? These are professional business people who work throughout the year on public and private art projects worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, but that was not good enough for those who don’t understand the arts industry.

The main attractor at Arthur Head is the Round House, our State’s oldest public building. More than 110,000 people come through the door there every year.

It is kept open by less than 40 Fremantle Volunteer Heritage Guides, who have an office, lunchroom, kitchen and toilet in a small cottage at Mrs Trivett Lane. These mainly elderly volunteers open the Round House-hail or shine-363 days of the year from 10.30 to 3.30 and fire the cannon at 1 pm, but that is not good enough for the COF officers who have told them that to get a new lease on the cottage they will have to share it and one of the rooms of the cottage needs to be activated and opened to the public. Why?!

Before the Bathers Beach Art Precinct started there was 24/7 activation of the area. The Harbour pilots did their day and night shifts, the Crookes family kids brought friends home from Lance Holt school to play on the grass, the family had friends over and barbeques and engaged with passing tourists. Many overseas visitors were introduced by the kids to our local bush tucker when the lilly pilly were in abundance.

The Fremantle Society held their meetings, let other organizations use the cottage, created heritage festival events at Arthur Head, community Boche nights, Australia Day fireworks BBQ, etc. and I lived there as the care-taker, but they, like the Crookes family and Fremantle Port Pilots, were not good enough for the City of Fremantle. The area needed to be reactivated with artists studios, and what a flawed concept that is.

Where are the activation events of BBAP? Where is the art market, why is Wardarnji not held up there but at the Fremantle Arts Centre, why are the community Boche nights in collaboration with FICRA not re-introduced?

Instead of activation of the area we now have a nightly ghost town up there that attracts anti-social behaviour. Most cottages are only open from 11-5 Thursday to Sunday, the Aboriginal Centre is not open on weekends, and on weekdays only from 9am to noon. On the long Queens Birthday weekend only the highly professional Glen Cowans Photo Gallery was open on the Monday, and of course the Round House.

Activation does not happen, it has to be inspired and organised and real money has to be spent by the City of Fremantle to make it work. Why not have a pop-up bar one evening a week as they do in Lemon Lane in Claremont, for example.

The one summer event that really and highly activates the area is the Saturday Bathers Beach Sunset Food Markets. It attracts many thousands of people who are all loving it, and it is of course a private enterprise because at Freo Council they wait and see and do the same old, same old festivals each and every year, and none of these festivals embrace the west end of town with any significance.

I love art and I have been advocating for an indigenous centre in Freo for many years, but unfortunately the Bathers Beach Art Precinct is another one of Council’s  flawed ideas. And now the new silly idea is to put a live music venue and micro-brewery at J Shed. Yep, let’s ignore the heritage significance, yep, let’s ignore it is an art precinct, let’s now try an entertainment precinct instead. Do you have any more bright ideas, Freo-thought bubble-Council?

Roel Loopers

Disclosure: I am a volunteer guide at the Round House and also involved in the Bathers Beach Sunset Food Markets.


Posted in fremantle by freoview on January 26, 2014

Welcome to J Shed at Fremantle Bathers Beach, the place that is so dormant according to our Councillors , that it is in desperate need of reactivation through alcohol related activities. Reality is a whole different kettle of fish of course, with wedding parties coming en-mass for photo shoots to Arthur Head, thousands of tourists visiting the area weekly, school student having picknicks at the A Class Reserve, and TAFE students having smokos and playing ball games there. Top that with exhibitions and community events organised by the long-term artists of J Shed, and the alleged ghost town all of a sudden becomes a hive of activity that even our Councillors would applaud if they could be bothered to visit Arthur Head more often.

When one also takes into account the thousands of people who come to the Bathers Beach Sunset Food Markets every Saturday during the warmer months, one has to start questioning what the real motives are for the City of Fremantle to want a micro brewery and outdoor music venue at Bathers Beach. There could not be a more family friendly event than the BBSF Markets, and it attracts more people on Saturdays than Sunset Events would be allowed to have at their ticketed concerts

I took these photos this Saturday afternoon.

Roel Loopers

sunset at bathers

J Shed

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